Review: How to like Paul again by Conrad Gempf


Conrad Gempf’s first year lectures on Paul are the stuff of legend.

No, really.  They are.  I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve heard round college raving about them.  It always makes me feel a little left out: I wonder what I missed by not doing first year classes.  But no more!  Conrad’s latest book, How to like Paul again: The apostle you never knew is some of his teaching material on Paul presented in the standard Conrad format – short chapters seasoned with his dry humour and packed full of the kind of content it never occurred to you to ask questions about until now.  Check out this video for a taste!

Conrad takes us through Galatians, 1 Corinthians and Philemon as you’ve probably never seen them before.  Unless you did those classes I’m still sore about missing, of course.  Along the way you’ll learn things about handling the text that you’ve never thought about before, recognise that Paul did not write systematic theologies but letters to normal people in real situations and see how texts that you thought were contradictory just might not be if you understand the communities to whom they were written.

I can’t give away too much but let me tell you that you’ll love this book if you are looking for something a little deeper but you don’t have the energy or time to do a Bible degree.  And, church leaders, you will absolutely love this book if you need something to satisfy both the mature and the not-so-mature in your church, something which is readable and at the same time not lacking in scholarship.  And, frankly, you’ll love this book even more if you’re looking for material for the small groups in your church: every chapter concludes with three short questions for reflection or discussion and Conrad has even provided you with reading schemes depending on whether your group has four, five or even seven weeks to work with.

I know there are hundreds of books on Paul.  I know your book budget is limited.  But, seriously, get this one.  It was worth it for the section on Philemon alone.  (Perhaps especially because that section provided me with material for a class about ten minutes before it started?!  Thanks again for that, Conrad!)  And – if you still don’t believe me – watch more of the book trailers and let Conrad do the talking about How to like Paul again.

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley.  Sadly I could only read it in Adobe DE.  So then the author took pity on me and gave me a hard copy of the book.  This latter fact alone is enough to make me biased.

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